Congrats to the Pottsville Area High School Basketball Team!
Rep. Tim Twardzik and I visited Pottsville Area High School this week to present their boys basketball team with Senate and House citations for their outstanding achievement this season. The team won the District 11 Class 5A Boys Championship!
Honoring the Sacrifice of Troopers Martin Mack and Branden Sisca
The Senate honored the lives and service of Trooper Martin F. Mack III of Bristol and Trooper Branden T. Sisca of Trappe this week. Both were assigned to Troop K, Philadelphia, and were tragically killed by a speeding motorist last week while assisting a pedestrian on I-95 just outside of Philadelphia.
Trooper Mack, 33, had been with the State Police since 2014, and sadly leaves behind a wife and two daughters. Trooper Sisca, 29, became a Trooper in February of 2021, and leaves behind a wife who is expecting their first child in July.
All of our men and women who wear blue put their own lives in jeopardy every day in order to serve this Commonwealth. Though they may no longer be with us, the memory of Troopers Mack and Sisca will live on as a result of their heroic deeds with the State Police. Read more here.
Are Ballot Drop Boxes Secure?
The controversial guidance that created drop boxes for ballots was the focus of a hearing I chaired of the Senate State Government Committee this week.
This action taken by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court at the last-minute to create ballot return sites, WITHOUT legislative approval, raised many questions as to whether these sites were secure or not, and whether they should be used at all during future elections.
Catherine Engelbrecht, the Founder of True the Vote, and Gregg Phillips, the CEO of OpSec Group testified about activists visiting multiple drop boxes on the same day, contrary to state law.
Lisa Schaefer, the Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, testified about the change to ballot return sites most needed by county election staff. Senate Bill 878, a bipartisan bill which I have sponsored with Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), would fulfill the most requested changes by requiring that drop boxes are stationary and monitored by 24/7 video surveillance.
To learn more about this hearing, visit the Senate State Government Committee’s website.
RGGI Carbon Tax Could Quadruple Electricity Rates
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which proposes a tax on carbon emissions in Pennsylvania, could nearly quadruple electricity rates for consumers in Pennsylvania, according to analysis by the impartial Independent Fiscal Office.
Governor Wolf’s unilateral efforts to join RGGI would effectively create a new tax for Pennsylvanians – without the approval of the General Assembly.
The governor’s actions have been met with a wave of opposition from groups across the state, many of whom testified at a hearing of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee I attended this week. Learn more about the hearing on the committee’s website.
Guest Chaplain Pastor Sharon Stokes of Tamaqua
This week, the Senate welcomed Pastor Sharon Stokes to the capitol to give the opening prayer during session. Pastor Stokes is the founder of Stokes Ministry in Tamaqua, where she lives with her family. Watch her full prayer above.
To all local pastors: please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if you are interested in being the guest chaplain during a future day of Senate session.
Local Volunteer Organization Helping Both at Home and Abroad
Local Jefferson Grant #1384 has launched efforts to aid not just the people in Ukraine affected by the unprovoked invasion of their country, but also those in need in Schuylkill County.
To benefit Ukrainian refugees, Jefferson Grange has launched an effort to collect money for the UN World Food Programme. Donations will be used to prepare emergency food boxes. Donors who give $5 may also receive a yellow and blue cookie made locally.
On April 9th, Jefferson Grange will be hosting an event to raise funds for the Suicide Prevention Task Force of Schuylkill County.
Visit their website to learn more about both these efforts.
Girardville St. Patrick’s Day Parade
My Celtic blood enjoyed a brisk walk last Saturday with Congressman Dan Meuser (wearing the maroon hat), and Rep. Tim Twardzik (in the green jacket on the far left), in Girardville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade! For a small town, Girardville always puts forth a major effort each year at this very special event.